Classic car


An everyday youngtimer: a mercedes s-class from the 70s or 80s can still be used without any problems today.

(photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn)

Old-timer owners no longer only take their classic cars out of the garage when the sun is shining. The use in everyday life is increasing. But caution is advised.

In 2001, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) in Flensburg registered around 60 lomax vehicles.000 vehicles with H-plates have been registered, the number is now 210.000 cars. All the "youngtimers" or endurance runners without official oldtimer status are not even counted yet. And for a long time now, many horsepower nostalgics have no longer been content with fair-weather drives. More and more often they use their classic as an everyday car.

"in principle, that’s not a problem," says florijan hadzic, press spokesman for daimler classic in stuttgart: "because many vehicles that are already considered classics today, such as the strich-acht or the SL from the R 107 generation, are absolutely suitable for everyday use with the right care and prove themselves on the boulevard just as well as in rush-hour traffic."According to hadzic, classic cars are not just "prewar runabouts" that you really don’t want to drive to the office in.

Caution! Different driving behavior

An everyday youngtimer: A Mercedes S-Class from the 1970s or 1980s can still be used today without any problems. (Image: Daimler/dpa/tmn)Not much in it, not much on it: The technology of older cars - here a Fiat 124 Spider - is much simpler than in current models. (Image: Fiat/dpa/tmn)Showpiece: Some owners prefer to show off their elaborately restored cars to a select audience at classic car gatherings like the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. (Image: BMW/dpa/tmn)

Showpiece: some owners prefer to show off their painstakingly restored car to a select audience at classic car meets like the concorso d’eleganza villa d’este.

Nevertheless, experts urge caution. Because the handling of a classic car is not comparable with that of a new car. "you should be aware that higher forces often have to be applied when steering and braking due to the lack of power assistance," warns classic car expert dieter ritter from the automobile club avd in frankfurt. The generally much poorer tire grip, braking performance and road holding of the oldies are also not comparable with modern vehicles. "the achievements of modern technology cause glaring differences" – not to mention electronic assistance systems, modern headlights or powerful windshield wipers.

It’s no wonder that classic cars crash more often on the road than cultural historians would like. According to statistics from the allianz insurance company in munich, the accident rate is significantly lower than the average due to the low mileage, and in most cases there is only minor damage. But "inexperience and overestimation of one’s own capabilities combined with a lack of driving experience lead to accidents time and again, especially with sporty classic cars," says johann gwehenberger, head of accident research and loss prevention at the allianz center for technology.

Technical defects often lead to accidents


Not much in it, not much on it: the technology of older cars – here a fiat 124 spider – is much simpler than in current models.

(photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn)

Hobby drivers in particular frequently cause rear-end collisions. "they are often unaware of the low deceleration potential of the brakes or brake too carefully in an emergency situation in order to protect their vehicle," says gwehenberger. This risk can be reduced through driver training courses for classic car owners, which are offered by some automobile clubs.

Technical defects are a particularly frequent cause of accidents involving classic cars. If water collects in the brake line, the brakes can fail. Aging tires can also burst, or brittle vehicle windows can refract sunlight and blind the driver.

Observe stickers and registration regulations

When it comes to the everyday use of a classic car, it’s not just the pitfalls of the technology that need to be taken into account: the laws on pollutants also demand caution. "genuine oldtimers", i.e. vehicles with H or 07 license plates, do not require a fine dust sticker. They are exempt from the ban on driving in environmental zones," says avd expert ritter, giving the all-clear. But the same conditions generally apply to "youngtimers" as to all other vehicles: without the appropriate sticker, the environmental zone is off-limits for them. that’s why many manufacturers now offer retrofit solutions for their young classics. Where this is demonstrably not possible, a "youngtimer" owner can apply for an exemption permit at a charge, according to ritter.

another sticking point when it comes to everyday use are the registration rules: "the H license plate is intended for permanent use, but is subject to the condition that the vehicles are used primarily for the maintenance of the motor vehicle cultural heritage," says avd expert ritter. Therefore you could get into explanation trouble on the way to the office. cars with a so-called 07 license plate are taboo for driving to work: they may only be used for test drives, for taking part in events and for driving for maintenance purposes. "so you can go to the garage, but you can’t go to the grocery store around the corner."

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